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B'More Green An environmental blog for everyday living
What's in a name affects attitudes: 'rain tax' vs. 'stormwater fee'

As the General Assembly debates repealing a hotly contested fee meant to pay for efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, it turns out the name you give that fee can make it less controversial.

Proponents call it the stormwater fee. Critics, including Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, call it the rain tax.

Two recent polls show how framing the issue can sway public attitudes. They were conducted as lawmakers debate repealing the three-year-old law, which mandated fees on residents and businesses in Baltimore City and the state's nine largest counties. The fees help pay for controlling polluted runoff from buildings and pavement, a problem for the bay.

The Senate unanimously passed a bill this month that would make clear it is optional for the jurisdictions to levy the fees. A hearing is scheduled Wednesday in the House of Delegates.

In a poll earlier this month by OpinionWorks of Annapolis, half of those questioned said they think people will be taxed "for the rain that falls on their...

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Stoneleigh residents trying to rid neighborhood of pesticides

Stoneleigh resident Rachel McFadden says she has been seeing a lot of her neighbors using pesticides on their lawns.

"Rather than call them out, I thought I would do something positive," said McFadden, who opposes pesticides as harmful to the environment and people's health.

McFadden, a member of the Stoneleigh Community Association's Committee on Greening and Recycling, organized a workshop for the Stoneleigh and Idlewylde communities March 24, led by two pesticides experts from Washington.

Presenters Matt Wallach and Jay Feldman of the organization Beyond Pesticides, advocated organic lawn care and decried what they said are inadequate and ill-enforced state and federal standards.

"We as a consumer don't know what's in that bottle of Roundup," said Feldman, the nonprofit's CEO.

The greening committee is also planning upcoming public workshops on composting and soil health.

McFadden is also a member of a babysitting cooperative at Stoneleigh Elementary School and said last week's...

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Public can glimpse new National Aquarium exhibit [Updated]

Update: The National Aquarium announced Thursday that "Living Seashore" will open May 12.

Starting Saturday, Baltimoreans will get their first glimpse at an innovative new exhibit under construction at the National Aquarium that will allow visitors to touch some of the marine life.

When the interactive "Living Seashore" exhibit opens in May, it will introduce visitors to more than 150 animals from 20 species that live between the tides of the Mid-Atlantic seashore. Visitors will be able to gingerly feel the prickly pointed spines of a purple sea urchin; run their hands over an Atlantic stingray's muscular wing; and feel the undulating belly of a moon jellyfish.

The Baltimore aquarium will be one of just three nationally to have a touchpool for jellyfish, according to the aquarium's media relations manager, Kate Rowe.

"Living Seashore will be the most interactive exhibit we've ever introduced," Jack Cover, National Aquarium general curator, said in an email. "We're excited to introduce...

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Pennsylvania eaglets fight over food in nest

Siblings close in age can fight over anything.

So there should be no surprise that the one- and two-day-old eaglets that hatched on live webcam in Southern Pennsylvania this week were caught on video Thursday duking it out for some grub.

The first eaglet hatched Tuesday morning, and the second followed Wednesday.

The eggs were laid on Feb. 14 and Feb. 17. Camera-watchers have been on the lookout in recent days for the eggs to hatch, as the incubation period for bald eagles is usually 35 days, according to the game commission.

Readers of LancasterOnline.com selected the names Honor and Justice for the pair's eaglets.

The eagle camera, which offers a sharp picture in full color, has captivated viewers from Hanover and beyond. Hundreds of thousands of viewers from more than 140 countries have checked out the eagle cam this season, according to the game commission.

The eagle cam can be viewed at http://www.pgc.state.pa.us at the "Bald Eagle Live Stream" icon.


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Baltimore ranks 34th in nation for installation of solar panels

Baltimore ranks 34th in the nation for the installation of solar panels, according to a report released Thursday by a locally based research and policy group.

Solar energy use has been rising in Maryland and across the country, according to the report by the Environment Maryland Research

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City cancels deal with trash-burning power plant

Baltimore's spending panel agreed Wednesday to terminate the city's contract with the developer of a trash-burning power plant in southern Baltimore.

The five-member Board of Estimates, controlled by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, voted unanimously to cancel its agreement with Energy Answers to buy electricity from a facility planned on the site of a former chemical plant in Fairfield. Coming on the heels of a similar cancellation by the city school system, the contract termination deals a significant setback to the controversial project.

Rawlings-Blake, whose administration has steadfastly supported the project, said she could no longer abide the developer's failure to make progress in building it.

"The concept I support," she said. "The implementation, or the lack of implementation, none of us can support."

The project, said by the developer to represent a $1 billion investment, has been backed by labor unions, some neighborhood leaders and many local elected officials — including...

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